In social media everybody could hear you scream… not any longer

Man talking into shoeIt was when the Library of Congress in the US announced two years ago that it would archive every single tweet that people became serious about social media… and more to the point their data.

The idea of all that data being saved made many people more reticent when posting their 140 characters on Twitter. It seemed inconceivable that all that information could be stored, as much as 160 characters on SMS could similarly be saved via those operators that are as avuncular as Uncle Joe Stalin.

Two years on and it’s not weird at all. In that time the idea of our data being saved, or even owned, by a third party is commonplace. For those of us who are terrified of this present that we couldn’t dare contemplate two decades ago it is a living nightmare, for young people it’s no problem at all, they’re inured to it already.

Facebook’s Timeline is another channel where nobody really complained when previously hidden posts were suddenly made public. The same happened when Google’s rival to Dropbox, Google Drive, gave the advertiser, er I mean search engine, part-ownership of large files deposited that way.

So this week’s launch of a service called scrambls is to be welcomed. The simple idea is that using the scrambls plug-in users will be able to encrypt any post to Twitter, Facebook or indeed any website.

It means that Facebook can’t steal your content, all it sees (for now) are meaningless hieroglyphs, people can have private conversations again and the Library of Congress won’t know what you’re saying. There is also a SDK that means it can be integrated into third-party apps.

There are naturally a lot of questions here for individuals and companies who use it, what will it do to search rankings and how social indices such as Klout and PeerIndex will become less relevant. But something stops me installing the plug-in.

Why should this be if I am welcoming it? Well, it’s obvious, I’m so paranoid now about anything that the digital universe says is good for me and makes my life easier that I think scrambls is like the a niche Library of Congress, they still have control of me.

Perhaps a better strategy is not to give a toss. Why worry about what you say, how you’re perceived and who’s listening and chronicling you? Wasn’t it all about free speech in the first place?

Monty (670 Posts)

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.